In dreams we do not wonder at the seeming impossible, such as moving through space at will or transformation scenes where animals are changed into human beings or vice versa.   In dreams we neither criticise nor deny.


Why then do we deny Animal Ghosts?


Having looked at the topic of Spirit or Power Animals last year, I feel it important that we differentiate these from Ghost Animals. The term, Power or Spirit Animal, is defined as: —”An internal helper, companion and guide, in the form of a natural or magical animal, which possesses qualities you need in this world…Your power animal helps you access higher wisdom, either your own or that of a higher power.”   By Ghost Animals or Animal Ghosts, I refer to the spiritual manifestations of animals that once lived here upon the earth and of which seek to accomplish some form of communication with the one to which they appear or haunt. They can manifest visually, be audible and/or tactile in nature, or a combination of these. I have decided to favour the term “ghost” in this talk, and have tried to avoid the term, Spirit, so as to avoid any confusion.

We shall investigate a few of the many theories abounding as to what these manifestations are, why they may exist and shall hear tales of animal ghosts, some good; some not-so-good.

I trust that you shall enjoy this talk as it is truly fascinating in both the stories told and the implications as to the truth of their reality.  If animals do, indeed, have a ghostly element to their nature, what of our treatment of them?


HAVE animals a soul, a ghostly counterpart? I unhesitatingly answer “Yes.”  If my dog lacks a soul then neither have I one—my dreams of immortality;  merging back into The One, of meeting with the Lord and Lady, are merely a delusion.  Animals really do display the highest attributes that we could all learn from and should attempt to emulate.




In all ages of the world and amongst all races of the earth people have claimed to see, sometimes in broad daylight, sometimes in the darkness of the night, ghosts in human shape, of animals, or of spiritual beings, appearing without material cause, and vanishing as mysterious as they came.




I undertook some minor research into how the term Ghost came about.  The word ”ghost” is of Persian origin and signifies guest. In Irish, which belongs to the same family of speech as Latin, we have anal, “breath,” and anam, “life” or “soul.” In Sanskrit, an elder branch of the same Aryan root, we find an, “to blow” or “breathe,” whence anila, “wind”; and in Greek anetnos has the same meaning. Psyche, pneuma, and ihymos, each meaning “soul” or “spirit,” are also from roots expressing that of “wind” or “breath.”  In Slavonic the root du has developed the meaning of “breath” into that of “spirit,” and the Gypsy dialect has duk, which is “breath” or “ghost.” Ghost, in the German is geist, and the Dutch geest, are each derived from a root seen in Icelandic geisa, meaning ” to rage,”  as in fire or wind, whence also come gust, gas, and geyser. In the non-Aryan Finnish, far means “soul” and “breath “; the Hebrew nephesh, ruach and neshamah (in Arabic ruh and nefs) pass from meaning “breath” to “spirit.” The like applies to the Egyptian kneph.    The terms may supply a further insight into why Ghosts are often “felt,” as they either pass us or indicate such as like a “breath of wind.”



It is not in our nature to rest satisfied with its first thought or observation—questions are posed and theories developed.  The question relating to our topic can be phrased—If it is possible for a ghostly counterpart to exist in humans, then why not a ghostly counterpart in animals, and ghostly counterparts in every important object in nature?  Who can limit the capacity of the ghost? That which might exist in people might likewise exist in animals, dwell in trees and plants, and make a home in a river or rock, exist in cloud and star, in short in everything. (The Supernatural, King 1892)


Such were the likely thoughts of early folk as they attempted to make sense of the world.  And even now, there are many who still subscribe to such a belief.


Early humans, to explain the world around them, saw that every element of Nature had an inner being; a Ghost as it were.  Later, as this belief developed, it made more sense of doctrines such as Immortality, Reincarnation and, to a large extent, Karma.   Treat the Natural World and animals and people with respect and good would return in kind.


Here we see the basis for the doctrine of Animism— A belief that all tangible objects, animate and inanimate alike, consist each of two separable parts—a body and a spirit. It is defined as a stage of culture in which people regarded any object, real or imaginary, as possessing emotions, thoughts, and actions like that they themselves possessed.


I really like what James G. Frazer, the anthropologist, has to say in relation to this in his book, Fear of the Dead (1936). He writes that “The strictly logical character of primitive thought has sometimes been doubted or denied, but in one respect at least, primitive man is more consistently logical than his civilized brother, for he commonly extends to the lower animals that theory of the survival of the soul after death which civilized peoples usually restrict to human beings.” (p. 283)


In researching this topic, it seems the rule of belief that it is human souls which take on the form of animal ghosts, implying that only humans have a ghostly nature and not so animals.  NOTE the connection to the witch’s familiar.  Sometimes even the Gods took on an animal form for concealment or protection.


In Greek mythology, Typhon was represented as a giant with a hundred heads like a dragon; the force of truth, or the power of his words by which he overcame idolatry was likened to “flames of fire darting from his mouth,” and his words to “horrid yells like the dissonant shrieks of different animals.” His story goes on to relate that the gods were so frightened that they fled away and assumed the shapes of various animals for concealment. – The Worship of the Dead by Garnier, 1904 p.265



Jupiter became a ram, Mercury an ibis, Apollo a crow, Juno a cow, Bacchus a goat, Diana a cat, Venus a fish, &c. The father of the gods at last resumed courage, and put Typhoeus to flight with his thunderbolts, and crushed him under mount AEtna, in the island of Sicily, or according to some, under the island Inarime. Typhoeus became father of Geryon, Cerberus, and Orthos, by his union with Echidna. Hygin. fab. 152 & 166.- Lempiere’s Classical Dictionary 1832 ed.




One Spiritualist tells of how he conversed with many very intelligent clairvoyants who have described apparitions which manifested themselves in the form of dogs, cats, bears, tigers, and other animals, and all these appearances they assured him, were but the representation of human beings under low conditions of development.   The same persons had informed him how they often saw different individuals surrounded by toads, lizards, serpents, and vermin, but that such objects had no real objective existence, but were projections from the evil tendencies of the parties, whose thoughts engendered them, as relate GHOSTLAND by Britten 1897 p. 97


During the Middle Ages (5th-15th Century), “a dead person sometimes took on the shape of a material object (a haystack) or, more often, of animal—a bird, a dog, a reptile, or a horse. In the metamorphosis that such tales attributed to them, the dead had a rich bestiary at their disposal, the symbolism of which was highly significant.”—Ghosts in the Middle Ages by Jean-Claude Schmitt, Trans. Teresa Lavender Fagan, 2000 p. 196


As we can deduce, this belief apparently has its origins in the old theory of metempsychosis which has existed in various stages throughout the various cultures of the world.


My own theory here goes something like this:—


Maybe another reason that people believed that humans took on an animal form after death, could be due to the fact the Christianity would have viewed only humans as having an “Immortal Soul,” or at least some “Inner Quality” that could be defined as Spirit or Ghost, hence the saying “giving up the ghost.”

Therefore, if animals lack a similar, it not the same, quality, then there was nothing that could manifest in the form of a spiritual apparition or ‘ghost.’ Let us remember that, according to most Christians, the Resurrection only applies to people.


To explain away the conundrum of an animal ghost would be simply to view such a manifestation as that of a dead human come back to walk the earth.       It could likewise have been that to see a dead person was more fearful to behold, (the dead do not walk, at least not prior to the Resurrection) whereas to see a dead animal, not so.  There is an apparent contradiction here yet one that seems to somehow make sense.  These are just some ideas that came to me that may contribute something to the debate in terms of theory.


In a book, Shropshire Folk-Lore by Georgina F. Jackson (1883) it has been suggested that ‘Possibly the animal form of ghosts is a mark of the once-supposed divinity of the dead. Ancestor worship is one of the oldest of the creeds, and in all mythologies we find that the gods could transform themselves into any shape at will, and frequently took those of beasts and birds.’ (p.131)


If a ghost resides in each individual as manifested in the natural world, surely such would continue to exist in other realms as it travels through its spiritual and evolutionary journey to attain liberation and become once more a part of The One.


One spiritualist, William Danmer, explains to us that: —


“The inherited concept of immortality does not directly apply to the living organic beings of our visible world. All of them are “mortals” who have to die sooner or later.     But by immortality is meant the lasting, persistent, self-sufficient existence of beings in the second department of organic life, the big realm of that individualized existence which has been called the realm of nirvana, the heaven of ghosts, the elysium, or the spirit-world. Immortality presupposes such a realm of invisible, persistent, undying organic beings which we simply call ghosts.” —Ghostology, 1924


In Ghosts I Have Seen Violet Tweedale explains that when a wild animal dies its life flows back into a group soul. As the animal becomes domesticated, such as a dog or cat, and learns to live with people, sharing in the joys and sorrows of its human companion, then it advances rapidly in evolution. Its closeness with a human helps it to develop human qualities, and in due time its ghost will no more return to merge in the group soul, but be born into the human family.   Of course, this is dependent on the treatment it experiences whilst on its life-journey. (publ. 1919, Chapter 9)


The life-spirit is first born into a primitive state to begin this human evolution, but the animal has passed one of the most important milestones on the long, lone trail. It will never more return to the world in the form of the beast, henceforth it will commence its slow ascent from the most elementary human body to the exalted heights of a god. They tell us in the East— “First a stone, then a plant, then an animal, then a man, and finally a God.” This is how the wisdom of the East understands Divine evolution. (See The Secret Doctrine, Stanza 8, Vol.2 p.698)


Violet was a close friend of H.P. Blavatsky and her book, Ghosts I Have Seen, contains an account of her first meeting with H.P.Blavatsky.


A similar view is advanced by the author of a book, A WANDERER IN THE SPIRIT LANDS, as written by a Spirit Author called Franchezzo in 1896. He inform us that “…animals as well as men hav[e] an immortal future for development before them. What are the limits of the action of this law we cannot pretend to say, but we draw our conclusions from the existence in the spirit world of animals [my emphasis] as well as men who have alike lived on earth, and both of whom are found in a more advanced state of development than they were in their earth existences.”

Harking back to Violet Tweedale’s reference to the Group Soul of animals, Andrew Rooke, in a talk on GROUP SOULS, SOUL GROUPS and SOUL MATES – Do they exist? explains that:—

Group Soul’ is the popular idea that there are entities which express themselves through a collective of living units and collectively are that unit with a single Group Soul covering them all. For example, many people think that when animals die they become merged back into a ‘Group Soul’.   But is this so from a theosophic viewpoint?

Every animal, plant, mineral, and even atom, has its own spiritual monad or permanent individuality which is on the path of evolution just as we human monads are on our Path. This individuality cannot be lost. The farther we go ‘back’ on the evolutionary ladder of life evolution towards the chemical elements, the less developed is their individuality – so the more alike they seem to us – like peas in a pod.

Another suggestion has been put forward that there are not ghosts per se, let alone Animal Ghosts. These apparitions are merely thought-forms that we create.  I tend to disagree, given that some of the tales of ghosts are more able to induce fear than, for want of better words, peace and serenity — and I naturally include the ghosts of animals here, as we shall discover shortly.   If these animal ghosts were thought-forms, is it not reasonable to venture that these ghosts would be welcomed and not, as sometimes is the case, shunned?

Another interesting point is that the ghost tales of old seem to be more malignant.  I think this may be due to the fact that the world back then was so different – gas light, no electricity, lonely roads, no noise pollution, more forest growth or isolated moors, fewer people meant houses were more isolated, bandits roamed the countryside, and a Christianity abounded that taught hell-fire & brimstone and the Devil to-boot and who, according to the Apostle Peter, roamed the country-side as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Pet.5:8)—no doubt, all this would have added to one’s imagination, thus generating far more ghastly visitations than of today.

The foregoing are just some of the theories that have been put forward to explain the reason for a belief in the existence of ghosts and an explanation as to why such a belief is valid, if not necessarily believed

Now for some tales of —

GHOSTLY VISITATIONS — Some dark; others light.

The accounts of the Ballechin House hauntings (Scotland) are well-documented. Upon the death of a former owner, a Major Stewart, in 1876, a series of ghostly animals were observed.  It is interesting to note that Major Stewart said he would come back to haunt the home in the form of a favourite dog, a black spaniel, after his demise

The remaining family had all of Major Stewart’s dogs destroyed; shot dead – fourteen in total – to thus avoid any future hauntings by such canines.


The account goes that — “The wife of the old Major’s nephew and heir was seated one day adding up accounts in the dead man’s study, when the room was suddenly invaded by the old doggy smell, and an unseen dog pushed distinctly up against her.  Many other unpleasant incidents followed after, but the really great happenings did not begin till 1896, when a hunting tenant, after a week or two, was compelled to quit the house, and forfeit the considerable rent he had paid in advance.” (Ghosts I Have Seen, p,121)


The Times of June, 1897 contains elaborate details of the various experiences and the names of the researchers of the Society of Psychical Research who, under the leadership of ghost-hunter, the late John, Marquis of Bute, conducted investigation at the house in 1892. We learn more about this haunting from a 1907 book on Haunted Houses by Charles G. Harper:


The bowed and bent figure of a spectral hunchback, gliding up-stairs, seen by two witnesses, was unnerving, but the most startling phenomenon was undoubtedly the frequent appearance of a spectral black spaniel, seen alike by those who had heard the story of the old Major and by many who had not. One of these last was a guest who, suffering one day from a severe headache, was trying to pass the time with setting up a camera in one of the rooms. He, strange to say, had a black spaniel of his own in the house, and thought he saw it run across the room. It looked larger, he thought, than his own dog; and then he saw his dog run into the room after it and wag his tail and seem pleased at the meeting. Casual mention of the incident elicited the fact that there was no other corporeal spaniel in or about the place.

For guests to be pushed and snuffled at by invisible dogs was a common occurrence, and  sounds as of dogs’ tails striking, in being wagged,  on doors and wooden wall panels, were continually heard;  while real undoubted dogs, with no suspicion of  anything ghostly about them, would frequently  be observed watching the movements of persons or  things invisible to merely human eyes. But one of the most unnerving episodes was that experienced by one of two sisters who were sharing the same bedroom.  She was woken in the middle of the night by the frightened whimpering of a pet dog that slept on the bed, and, looking round in the direction of the animal’s gaze, she saw — what think you? —nothing but two black paws on a table beside the bed


To conclude this particular haunting were to be seen two nuns in black, in the grounds of the house.   The first recorded of these was a solitary nun seen weeping in a snow-covered glen. On another occasion there were two nuns observed simultaneously (but independently of each  other) by two different ladies, and at the same time by a usually quiet dog that accompanied one of them, which ran up to the nuns, barking violently. It is to be remarked here that a sister of Major Stewart’s had died as a nun in 1880.     The fact that the dog also observed these nuns shows us that animals can see things often beyond our own limited perceptions.




This house was located somewhere in Surrey not many miles from London, existing in the mid 1800s. It was not very old and there was nothing remarkable in its appearance, nothing to suggest even to an impressionable, highly sensitive person that it was haunted. The house had in the rear of it quite a large garden, which from long lack of attention was overgrown with weeds.


One very still and quiet night, one of the house’s occupants, Ronald, was sitting by the warmth of the fire and, feeling snug, he did not like leaving it.   A sudden awareness of some presence behind him made him glance apprehensively round. There was no one to be seen.   Whilst looking intently at the wall-paper, a mixture of bilious yellow and green, with a jumble of flowers of an unknown species, he noticed that it was soiled and had probably been on the walls for many years.   The longer he stared at it, the more it jarred his nerves and he decided to get replace it as soon as possible. There seemed to be something unusual about it tonight; something that made him keep on gazing at it, at one spot in particular. Of course, it was just his silly imagination, but in the flowers and leaves he could see a grotesque resemblance to a face, such as one sometimes sees in a fire or in the pattern of a carpet.

This face became more and more pronounced as a queer, distorted face with prick ears, a grinning mouth and leering eyes.


About a week later, Ronald’s sister, Mabel, had a similar experience though this time the grinning face appeared in the designs of two separate cushions.  Believing that her imagination was playing tricks as she sat alone in the house, she rearranged the cushions.   Later she became again conscious of being watched, and on looking round she saw, with a start, that the cushions were not as she had left them. There were again faces, queer animal faces with the same expression of malicious amusement in their eyes. Becoming scared, she wondered if she was in a nightmare. To make sure that she was awake, she rose and looked at herself in the mirror over the mantelshelf. When she got back to her chair the faces were no longer to be seen. Spooky!


An English scientists, Robert Hunt inform us in his Popular Romances of the West of England, (1865) about A vicar named Jago, of Wendron in Cornwall, who was believed by his parishioners to have intercourse with the Devil. These were afraid of him, and declared that he had second sight, and could cast spells on those who offended him. Many people used to see him at crossroads and lonely spots at night, conversing with the evil spirits that haunted those places. The very ghostly horse on which he rode, a huge black animal, was said to possess supernatural powers and to be able to appear and disappear in the most unaccountable and alarming manner. (First Series pp.245-246)


In the same book can be found the story of Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) and His demon. Sir Francis appears to have been especially befriended by his demon and was said to drive at night a black hearse drawn by headless horses, and urged on by running devils and yelping, headless dogs, through Jump, on the road from Tavistock to Plymouth. (First Series pp.260-262)




A naval officer was visiting a friend in the country back in 1864. Several men were sitting around the smoking-room fire when he arrived, and a fox-terrier was with them. Presently the heavy, shambling footsteps of an old dog, and the metallic shaking sound of its collar, were heard coming up the stairs.  “Here’s old Peter!” explained the visitor. “Peter’s dead!” whispered his dog’s owner. The sounds passed through the closed door, heard by all; they pattered into the room; the fox terrier bristled up, growled, and went in pursuit of some viewless object across the carpet; from the hearth-rug came the sound of a animal shaking, followed by a jingle of a collar and the settling weight of a body collapsing into repose.— This  story was written in a letter to Andrew Lang from an anonymous Lieutenant  of H.M.S Gunboat.




The following apparition of the spirit of a dog, occurring 106 miles from the location of his life experience and death, and at the very time of his “passing out,” is another interesting case.


Jim was a beautiful Collie, and was the pet of one General John Charles Thompson., who was residing at Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1905.  Jim had wide celebrity in the city as “the laughing dog,” as he seemed to manifest his recognition of and love for his acquaintances and friends by a joyful laugh, as akin to that of any human being.


His affectionate nature surpassed even that of his own kind, and was often cited by those who knew him intimately, as confirmation of the then (as sometimes still) current metaphysical conceit of that time, is was dogs alone of the dumb animals who possessed the religious instinct and thus worshipped man as God. What nonsense.


One evening in the fall of 1905, about 7:30 p. m., the General was walking with a friend on 7th. Street in Denver. As the two approached the entrance to the First National Bank, they observed a dog lying in the middle of the pavement, and coming up to him were was amazed at his perfect likeness to Jim in Cheyenne.    The identity was greatly fortified by the dog’s loving recognition of the General, and the peculiar laugh that accompanied it.  The General commented to his friend, then and there, that nothing but the 106 miles between Denver and Cheyenne would keep him from believing the dog to being Jim, whose peculiarities were explained to his friend before.


The dog astral, or ghost, was apparently badly hurt. He could not arise.

After petting him and giving him a kind farewell, the General and his friend crossed over Stout Street, and stopped to look at him again. Turning around, he found that the dog had vanished.   Upon the arrival of next morning’s mail, a letter from my wife said that Jim had been accidentally killed the evening before at 7:30 p. m.   The General has stated that he would always believe it was Jim’s ghost that he saw. (The Swastika, July 1907)


Other stories concerning dogs are supplied by Irish author, Elliot O’Donnell (1872-1965) in his Byways of Ghostland (1911)who explains how:—


“Occult dogs are very often of a luminous, semi-transparent bluish grey—a bluish-grey that is common to many other kinds of superphysical phenomena, but which he had never seen in the physical world.  He had heard of several houses in Westmoreland and Devon, always in the vicinity of ancient burial places, being haunted by blue dogs, and sometimes by blue dogs without heads. Indeed, headless apparitions of all sorts are by no means uncommon.   A lady, who was well known to him, had a very unpleasant experience in a house in Norfolk, where she was awakened one night by a scratching on her window-pane, which was some distance from the ground, and, on getting out of bed to see what was there, she perceived the huge form of a shaggy dog, without a head, pressed against the glass. Of course, Elliott argues that is does not necessarily follow that because one does not actually see a head, a head is not objectively there—it may be very much there, only not materialised.”    And what of our feline friends?


One Canadian lady described a ghost cat which would appear in her home from time to time —an old brick house that was over 100 years old.   The cat would be “felt” nibbling her hair or snuggling against her as she took a nap on the couch.  Violet had her own cat, named Soldier, at the time, who would often be observed sparring with an invisible partner.  At other times, Soldier’s food bowl would be mysteriously empty —and Soldier meowing the food that he evidently missed out on.     When Violet remarked about this to her Japanese-Canadian mother, it was explained to her that the Spirit Cat was eating the food, same as the spirits located of Japanese shrines would eat the food offered to them.  (Ghost Stories of Pets and Animals by Darren Zenko, Ghost House Books, 2004, pp.172-175)


Another lady, Janice Essex, relates a ghostly experience which occurred back in 1953, when her mother was pregnant with her. Her folks went to live in an old boarding house built in the 1890s. In this old house, a cat was frequently seen by Janice’s sisters and other family members—both those residing there as likewise those visiting. It seems that the cat was not really a problem in any way. (Phantom Felines…and other Ghostly Animals by Gerina Dunwich, Citadel Press, 2006, pp.30-31)




There is a legend mentioned in a poem composed by Wordsworth in 1807, ‘The White Doe of Rylstone,’ in which is embodied a Yorkshire tradition to the effect that a local lady of Bolton Abbey, an Emily Norton, revisited the ruins of the venerable structure in the form of a spotless white doe :


Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain

A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,

Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright,

And glides o’er the earth like an angel of light


The story is based upon an incident where her brother, Francis Norton, joined a Catholic rebellion against Queen Elizabeth the First (1533-1603) and was condemned to death. Francis was later released but was murdered whilst returning home.  Emily Norton, being in despair, sank to her knees but was befriended by a white doe which remained with her for life.   After Emily died, the doe faithfully continued to make the journey to Bolton Abbey and would lie upon the grass under which Emily’s brother was buried.


Catherine Crowe, in her Night Side of Nature, (1868) relates one case of a house near Philadelphia, U.S.A., that was haunted by a variety of phenomena, among others that of a spectre resembling a goat.    “Other extraordinary things happened in the house,” she writes, “which had the reputation of being haunted, although the son had not believed it, and had thereupon not mentioned the report to the fatherOne day the children said they had been running after such a queer thing in the cellar; it was like a goat, and not like a goat, but it seemed to be like a shadow.”

This explanation does not appear to be very satisfactory, but as Elliot O’Donnell mentions hearing of one or two other cases of premises being haunted by what, undoubtedly, were the phantasms of goats, he feels it is highly probable it was the ghost of a goat in this instance, too.

And what about animals that experience ghosts, either human or animals? If we can accept that something occurs, then does this not add weight to the argument for a belief in, nay the reality, of Ghosts?




We have already noted the dog which had observed and ran up to the nuns in the case of Ballechin House.


A report, under the heading, Animal Clairvoyance, is found in an old UK magazine, The Occult Review, of February 1931.  The author relates that:—”One afternoon my sister and I, with our dog, were walking through what was supposed to be a “haunted” wood. (A man had hung himself on a lightning-struck tree, just off the path.)  Our dog, which had been running joyously about, stopped suddenly as we approached this spot ; and with every hair on her back bristling, her eyes glowing green, she backed away from something upon which her eyes were fixed, but which was quite invisible to my sister and me.”


It comes as no surprise that not everyone is going to accept the validity of ghosts or that animals can possibly see them. For example:


Canadian naturalist and a Fellow of the Royal Society, George John Romanes cites an interesting case in his book, Mental Evolution in Animals (1884 p.150)  as shared by a friend of his, Walter Pollock, who related to Romanes that he had:—


A Scotch terrier that had a curious hatred or horror of anything abnormal. For instance, it was long before she could tolerate the striking of a spring bell which was a new experience to her. She expressed her dislike and seeming fear by a series of grow and barks accompanied by setting her hair on end. She used from time to time to go through the same performance after gazing fixedly on what seemed vacancy, seeming to see some enemy or portent unseen by me, as if the victim of optical illusion.

I could produce the same effect by doing some unexpected and irrational thing until she had become accustomed to it, yet the seeing of some form of phantom remained unabated.”


The author again refers to a Mr. Pierquin, “who owned a female ape which had had sunstroke and afterwards used to become terror-struck by delusions of some kind; she used to snap at imaginary objects, and acted as if she had been watching and catching at insects on the wing.” (p.150)


The Scottish physician and botanist, William Lauder Lindsay  informs readers in his 1880 work, Mind in the Lower Animals, that— Delusions may be studied in the horse. The of sight in animals occasionally take the form, as in man, of phantoms, images of ghosts, or apparitions of imaginary persons, animals, or things” (II. p. 103) and that “Spectral delusions occur in several forms of insanity among the lower animals, as in the rabies in the dog, the sturdy (a disease) found in the sheep, and the sunstroke in the ape.”


Yet how do these authors know that these animals are displaying a form of delusion as opposed to seeing “something” that is “real” to their vision yet not visible to the people around them?  That is the question, to which a reply comes to us via British Psychic Investigator, Hereward Carrington (1880-1958) when he points out in his True Ghost Stories of 1915,  that:—


“…we have the behavior of animals, in haunted houses. They often appear to see figures visible or invisible to others present at the time—bark at them, rub against them, stare at them, act as though terrified at what they see, etc…. and can be explained only with difficulty if we are to believe that the figures seen are merely hallucinations.”


Castel a Mare


At Torquay, South Devon, at one time, a villa, the Castel a Mare, on the Warberry Road, was reputed to be badly haunted. A former tenant of the Castel a Mare” related to Violet Tweedale many details of her residence there. About thirty years ago she occupied it with her father and mother, and they were the last family to live in it for any length of time, and for many years it has remained empty. Soon after their arrival this family discovered that there was something very much amiss with their new residence.

The house, the garden, and the stable were decidedly uncanny, but it was some time before they would admit, even to themselves, that the strange happenings were of a supernatural order.


It seems that around 1870 a terrible murder occurred in the house. It is believed that the property was once owned by a local doctor who had moments of madness, and murdered his wife, and then their maid because of what she’d seen. Others say that a guest or patient was visiting the doctor and he murdered him.


It was also noted Animals fared badly at “Castel a Mare.” A large dog belonging to the family was often found cowering and growling in abject fear of something visible to it, but not to the human inhabitants, and the harness horse showed such an invincible objection to its stable, that it could only be got in by backing.


The Irish author, Elliot O’Donnell, writes in Dangerous Ghosts, (1954) another interesting tale concerning a horse.


In the little town of Nenagh was a bridge over a shallow stream which would sometimes becomes dry in the summer. The bridge and the stream are reputed to be haunted. One day, about the middle of the last century, a farmer was returning home from the fair at Nenagh in an unusually happy mood, having met several of his friends at the fair.  As he approached the bridge he saw a white object, no bigger than his hat, gliding along the road by his side. When he reached the bridge his horse stopped short. He dismounted and tried to lead the horse over the bridge, but it recoiled, snorted and trembled violently. It was a bright moonlight night, and the farmer, chafed by the horse’s obstinacy, and seeing nothing to account for it, lost his patience with the poor animal, and plied his whip and spur in earnest.   All of a sudden the horse shot forward, and the farmer saw very clearly, standing on the bridge, the tall, shadowy form of a woman in black, who struck him on the shoulder as he passed. The blow threw him forward upon the neck of his horse, which in wild terror reached the door of his house at a mad gallop, and stood there quivering and steaming all over.


There is a Scottish island located in the Outer Hebrides, known as  St. Kilda — now declared a World Heritage Site and no longer populated— yet at one time it was populated by a small band of villages.

They held onto many strange notions.    Popular opinion at one time was strongly in favour of the belief that beasts could see ghosts. The people of St. Kilda, according to one Martin Martin, writing in the year 1703, held that cows shared the visions of second-sighted milk-maids.


Firstly, Martin defines the phenomena: “THE Second Sight is a singular Faculty of Seeing an otherwise invisible Object, without any previous Means used by the Person that sees it for that end ; the Vision makes such a lively impression upon the Seers, that they neither see nor think of any thing else, except the Vision, as long as it continues: and then they appear pensive or jovial, according to the Object which was represented to them.”  He goes on to write “THAT Cows see the Second Sight appears from this—that when a Woman is milking a Cow, and then happens to see the Second Sight, the Cow runs away in a great fright at the same time, and will not be pacified for some time after.” He cites a similar experience concerning a horse which broke free from his rope, having seen a vision of the group of men carrying a coffin —did this horse have Second Sight of the death of a woman who was buried two days after this event? See A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland by Martin Martin, 1703 p.300, 307 respectively.


As we have noted in the works by Romanes and Lindsay above, they believed that dogs, cats and other animals can be easily affected by whatever it is that makes people think a ghost may be hovering nearby, or by the conduct of the human being on these occasions.  Of course, this is not to discount that some animals can “see” or “feel” when an actual ghost is present.




The folk-lore and ghost-lore of many countries contain accounts of phenomena that are an odd mixture of ghost and fairy. In France there existed until comparatively recently a belief in brous. A brou is a phenomenon that is a human being during the daytime and a sheep during the night. It derives its name from the American term for a thicket, because brous are supposed to gallop all night through woods and thickets.


There is a story of a man walking along a road who one night found a small sheep that had apparently strayed from the flock and seemed to be lost.

He picked the animal up, and was on his way home with it when it asked him in a human voice where he was taking it. He was so terrified that he dropped the brou, which at once turned into a woman, who bounded away, uttering peals of diabolical laughter. She proved to be a married woman whose home was in Liege.   As soon as it was known that she was a brou she had to leave Liege. What subsequently became of her was never ascertained.   Brous were sometimes very distinctive. They ran over the country at night killing and devouring dogs, poultry and occasionally little children.— SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS OF TOURAINE, as published in Chambers Edinburgh Journal, JANUARY —JUNE, 1845.




If animal ghosts are a reality —not all tales and experiences can simply be brushed aside; some must have a basis of truth to them, then what are the implications?    It surely follows that animals too continue to live in some other realm – the Spirit World, the Summerlands, Heaven — call it what you will.  And if so, then we have a duty of care as to how we treat them as they roam the Earth in physical form; a duty to protect them from harm and to nurture them that they may grow in the evolution of their Spirituality to likewise return to The One.


If we accept the notion of the One Divine Creative Principle (of which I see manifested in the God & Goddess), and thus accept the notion that all life contains a Spark of this Divine – then yes,  IT DOES BECOME IMPORTANT, for is not this ‘wee Spark’ akin to what we may term ‘the ‘Ghost’ of a given animal?   To thus abuse anything of Nature that we share this Planet with (indeed, the very Universe), is tantamount to abusing the Divine itself.


If Animal Ghosts exist – what of their fate once they die and leave us?


Though this talk has centred on the ghost, ergo, of the already-departed animal, I conclude here with two poems, the first by the English poet, Robert Southey (1774-1843), the second by the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869) Both poems envision what shall become of our animal friends future-wise, (that is, in their ghostly life) and may give us all a deep hope that our animal companions do still live on even after we bid them Goodbye.

“Ah, poor companion! when thou followedst last

Thy master’s parting footsteps to the gate

Which closed forever on him, thou didst lose

Thy truest friend, and none was left to plead

For the old age of brute fidelity.

But fare thee well. Mine is no narrowed creed;

And He who gave thee being did not frame

The mystery of Life to be the sport

Of merciless man. There is another world

For all that live and move—a better one!


Where the proud bipeds, who would fain confine

Infinite goodness to the little bounds

Of their own charity, may envy thee.”


—Southey (On the death of a favourite old spaniel, 1792).


Whilst the poet Lamartine beautifully expresses a future hope for his  own faithful dog which was named Fido.


“I cannot, will not, deem thee a deceiving,

Illusive mockery of human feeling,

A body organized, by fond caress

Warmed into seeming tenderness;

A mere automaton, on which our love

Plays, as on puppets, when their wires we move.

No! when that feeling quits thy glazing eye,

‘Twill live in some blest world beyond the sky.”

—Lamartine (Jocelyn’s Episode, 1836)



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